In 2014, the General Conference Executive Council (GCEC) formed the Indigenous Ministry Task Force (IMTF) which took over the coordination and synergy of this ministry from the Council of Mission. The main vision of the IMTF is to take the Gospel to all the indigenous people communities in Malaysia. The IMTF would partner the indigenous Church so as to see the fruits of evangelism and discipleship, and to uplift the quality of life of the indigenous community within the Methodist Church in Malaysia specifically and the Malaysian church in general.
The ministry amongst the Indigenous peoples (the orang Asal and orang Asli) spans throughout Malaysia. In Sarawak, SIAC is the main body of indigenous work. This ministry amongst the Iban peoples also involves TRAC and SCAC. In Sabah, SAC has a BM ministry. This ministry includes the Kadazan, the Rungus, the Murut, the Dusun and many other indigenous groups. In Peninsular Malaysia, the ministry is mainly carried out by TRAC through Persidangan Misi Sengoi (PMSM). CAC and TAC also have missions in many parts here.
IMTF focuses its ministry through 6 core strategies:
a. Direct Church Planting and Mission ministry
b. Leadership, Personnel and Spiritual Focus
The main area of focus in this area is training up leaders, especially assistants to pastors who work amongst the indigenous peoples themselves. This is done through the Church Planting Institute (CPI) program. This formal training program is carried out both in Sarawak and Sabah. Graduates of the CPI training would be called Assistants to the Pastor for rural and semi-urban longhouse ministries.
The IMTF also consolidates and prints materials and resources for the ministry. In working with Publication and Printing ministries such as Wawasan Penabur, Cornerstone Resources and Pristine Publications, materials such as bibles, magazines and training resources have been made available to the indigenous peoples.
The IMTF has also been involved in giving financial aid to the Cultural and Mission Centre based in Methodist Theological Seminary.
c. Political Advocacy
The IMTF also encourages Methodist lawyers to work with other Christian lawyers to address constitutional and legal rights issues for the indigenous peoples. This includes sourcing for an advocacy team to stand by the indigenous people whose lands have been encroached.
All the Annual Conferences have been very active in the education of the indigenous peoples. Many kindergartens and hostels have been established. The IMTF has helped out financially and has also offered advise to these education centres.
e. Economic Empowerment Program
Through the collaborative experience of the individual Annual Conference in various Economic empowerment programs, the IMTF has become a resource centre for the whole church. These include expertise and agricultural programs, solar systems for power generation and models for health care in the rural areas. The IMTF has also funded students pursuing tertiary education in the local colleges with the hope that they will return to serve in their communities on completion of their studies.
Some of the Annual Conferences with partial financial aid from the IMTF has sourced for fulltime staff to work amongst the indigenous peoples. This has brought fruit in many areas of ministry especially in the interiors of Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah.
f. Synergizing and Awareness
The IMTF has conducted seminars, conferences and training for the indigenous peoples and also for churches which have the focus on indigenous ministry. The IMTF also coordinates inter Annual Conferences working relationships so that better cohesion and cooperation is built up in this ministry.
Looking to the Future
Through God’s enabling grace, the ministries of the indigenous peoples have grown in our country. The IMTF has been blessed in many ways and seeks to be a blessing to many others through this ministry. There are still much to be done through the IMTF. The IMTF needs more human and financial resources to grow this ministry. May it continue to be faithful and be dependent on the Lord for this ministry.